See you in Sidney!

 

 

I’m travelling to Australia for a couple of invited talks next week! Specifically, on Monday the 5th of November I’ll be presenting my Dynamic Restructuring Model for bilingualism-induced neuroplasticity at the Afternoon Colloquium of the MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development, Western Sydney University. For more details, including a link for live streaming of my talk, check here.

Following that, on Tuesday the 6th I will be presenting the same model as part of the Neuroimaging Workshop of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, MacQuarie University. For more information about the workshop check here.

I’m really excited for both events (and for my first time in Australia)! See you there!

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New PhD students in our lab, farewell to an alumnus, and new opportunities to join our School!

A very warm welcome to our new PhD recruits! Najla Alrwaita will conduct a study on diglossia in Saudi Arabia, Michal Kořenář will be investigating bilingualism and creativity, whereas Jia’en Yee will be looking at the effects of orthographic transparency in the bilingual brain! We are all very exciting to have them around in what promise to be very interesting research projects! See here for details

At the same time, (now Dr) Vincent DeLuca is leaving us for pastures new, specifically to start a postdoc at the University of Birmingham on bilingualism and the brain, following up nicely from his PhD work. Vince has been the first PhD student of the lab, and central to its creation and proliferation, so he will surely be missed (but he will be kept on speed dial, there are still tons of data to analyse!)

In the meantime, the Language, Development and Ageing research division of our School invites applications for a new round of PhD studentships. Here is the official announcement:

 

PhD Studentships in Language Sciences at the University of Reading

The School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences at the University of Reading is inviting applicants for PhD studentships to work on topics within the Language, Development and Ageing Research Division. This research division conducts research in psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics, language development, bi-/multilingualism, and language disorders. We are looking for students interested in pursuing PhD projects along these broad themes. Successful applicants will have full access to facilities within the School, which include eye-tracking, TMS, EEG and MRI, and will become members of various labs and research centres across the School and university. This includes the Psycholinguistics and Neurolinguistics Lab and the Acquired Brain and Communication  Disorders Lab within the School, and the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism and the Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics across the university. A number of PhD studentships are currently available for study beginning in October 2019, as described below.

SeNNS Doctoral Training Partnership

The University of Reading is part of the ESRC funded SeNSS Doctoral Training Partnership which awards studentships for either 3-year PhD study, or combined MSc/PhD study involving a 1-year MSc followed by 3-year PhD. These studentships are open to UK and EU residents on a fees + yearly stipend basis (for UK residents) or a fees only basis (for EU residents). The final deadline for applications for these studentships is in January, but we encourage applicants to contact potential supervisors as soon as possible to discuss their projects.

University International Research Studentships The University of Reading also offers studentships to international (non-UK/EU) students. This year, up to seven International Research Studentships will be available across the university. These awards may be made on a fees + stipend basis, or on a fees-only basis. The deadline for applications for International Studentships is January 31st, 2019.

Further information on all schemes is available via the university’s Graduate School Website . Interested applicants should contact the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences at pcls.pgr@reading.ac.uk to register their interest in applying. Interested applications should also contact potential supervisors at Reading (see staff list within the School here) to discuss their proposal and application.

Our lab at the CoNSALL conference

Earlier this week our lab featured in the CoNSALL conference with two talks and two poster presentations.

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Pliatsikas: Understanding structural plasticity in the multilingual brain: The Dynamic Restructuring Model

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DeLuca et al: Bilingualism is a Spectrum: Effects of specific language experiences on brain function and executive control in bilinguals

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Voits et al.: Beyond dementia: interaction of bilingualism and neurodegeneration

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Pliatsikas et al.: Bilingualism interacts with age-related cortical thinning in children and adolescents

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Round table discussion

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Of course, no visit in North Wales is complete without a visit to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch!

We’d like to thank the organisers for the warm hospitality and the very interesting event!

Two new publications on morphological processing, in Cortex

Both papers to appear in the forthcoming Special Issue on Structure in words: the present and future of morphological processing in a multidisciplinary perspective

Leminen, A., Smolka, E., Duñabeitia, JA. & Pliatsikas, C. (2018): Morphology in the brain: the good (inflection), the bad (derivation) and the ugly (compounding). Cortex, DOI:10.1016/j.cortex.2018.08.016

To access, click here

Abstract

There is considerable behavioral evidence that morphologically complex words such as ‘tax-able’ and ‘kiss-es’ are processed and represented combinatorially. In other words, they are decomposed into their constituents ‘tax’ and ‘-able’ during comprehension (reading or listening), and producing them might also involve on-the-spot combination of these constituents (especially for inflections). However, despite increasing amount of neurocognitive research, the neural mechanisms underlying these processes are still not fully understood. The purpose of this critical review is to offer a comprehensive overview on the state-of-the-art of the research on the neural mechanisms of morphological processing. In order to take into account all types of complex words, we include findings on inflected, derived, and compound words presented both visually and aurally. More specifically, we cover a wide range of electro- and magnetoencephalography (EEG and MEG, respectively) as well as structural/functional magnetic resonance imaging (s/fMRI) studies that focus on morphological processing. We present the findings with respect to the temporal course and localization of morphologically complex word processing. We summarize the observed findings, their interpretations with respect to current psycholinguistic models, and discuss methodological approaches as well as their possible limitations.

 

Wheeldon, L., Schuster, S., Pliatsikas, C., Malpass, D. and Lahiri, A. (2018) Beyond decomposition: processing zero-derivations in English visual word recognition

To access, click here

Abstract

Four experiments investigate the effects of covert morphological complexity during visual word recognition. Zero-derivations occur in English in which a change of word class occurs without any change in surface form (e.g., a boat-to boat; to soak-a soak). Boat is object-derived and is a basic noun (N), whereas soak is action-derived and is a basic verb (V). As the suffix {-ing} is only attached to verbs, deriving boating from its base, requires two steps, boat(N)>boat(V)>boating(V), while soaking can be derived in one step from soak(V). Experiments 1 to 3 used masked priming at different prime durations to test matched sets of one and two-step verbs for morphological (soaking-SOAK) and semantic priming (jolting-SOAK). Experiment 4 employed a delayed-priming paradigm in which the full verb forms (soaking and boating) were primed by noun and verb phrases (a soak/to soak, a boat/to boat). In both paradigms, different morphological priming patterns were observed for one-step and two-step verbs, demonstrating that morphological processing cannot be reduced to surface form-based segmentation.

Farewell to Quebec after a successful SNL meeting!

Our lab has had a very productive time and a strong presence at this year’s Society for the Neurobiology of Language meeting that was held in the beautiful Quebec City. With three posters and one oral presentation, we had the opportunity to chat with the experts and exchange interesting ideas! Next stop: Bangor, Wales, for the Cognitive Neuroscience of Second and Artificial Language Learning meeting!

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New publication on the longitudinal effects of bilingualism on brain structure, in Bilingualism: Language and Cognition

DeLuca, V., Rothman, J., & Pliatsikas, C. (2018): Linguistic immersion and structural effects on the bilingual brain: a longitudinal study. To appear in Bilingualism: Language and Cognition

To access, click here

Abstract

Learning and using additional languages can result in structural changes in the brain. However, the time course of these changes, as well as the factors the predict them, are still not well understood. In this longitudinal study we test the effects of bilingual immersion on brain structure of adult sequential bilinguals not undergoing any language training, who were scanned twice, three years apart. We observed significant increases in grey matter volume in the lower left cerebellum, mean white matter diffusivity in the frontal cortex, and reshaping of the left caudate nucleus and amygdala and bilateral hippocampus. Moreover, both prior length of immersion and L2 age of acquisition were significant predictors of volumetric change in the cerebellum. Taken together, these results indicate that bilingualism-induced neurological changes continue to take place across the lifespan and are strongly related to the quantity and quality of bilingual immersion, even in highly-immersed adult bilingual populations.